Everyone who follows the auto industry knew that Tesla’s Model S would eventually get knocked from its first-place sales pedestal in the mid-size electric luxury sedan segment (which is actually a thing…
Everyone who follows the auto industry knew that Tesla’s Model S would eventually get knocked from its first-place sales pedestal in the mid-size electric luxury sedan segment (which is actually a thing now), but some might’ve expected the upstart EV replacing it at the top to be from some all-new brand like Lucid. As we all now know it was Porsche’s Taycan that took best-selling honours in this category last year, let alone every month since.
To be fair to Tesla, its flagship four-door has been with us mostly unchanged for a decade, which is a surprisingly long stint for any car and certainly testament to how advanced the original was when it came on the market in 2012. Then again, one glance at the Taycan and the Model S looks downright frumpy, which was no doubt part of Porsche’s plan when penning the now three-year old BEV.
Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition commemorates 90 years of famed racetrack
So, how should Porsche celebrate this monumental occasion? Once again breaking the track record at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife might be a good idea, especially since the only car to do so was a preproduction Taycan Turbo back in 2019 that, while achieving a pretty impressive lap time of 7:42.34 minutes and therefore making Tesla’s four-year old 8:50-minute lap of a Model S P85D look as if it was merely cruising along in “chill” mode, got walloped by an updated 2021 Model S that ran the ring in just 7:35.579 last fall, no doubt in Plaid track mode.
Thus far Porsche hasn’t taken the bait, but they’ve nevertheless conjured up a new special edition that pays tribute to 90 years of motorsport on Germany’s second-most famous race course, the Hockenheimring, and while only available in Europe and therefore somewhat useless information for any Canadian that doesn’t also own a hunting cabin in the Black Forest or ski lodge in Chamonix, it’s a worthy racetrack to commemorate and a nicely dressed up Taycan to boot.
Hockenheimring has a long history of notable winners
The Hockenheimring, located in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, hosted Formula 1 as recently as 2019, but was a regular haunt of motorsport’s supreme series from 1977 to 2006, except for 1985 when the German Grand Prix was held at a reconfigured Nürburgring circuit, which had lost F1 in 1976 due to safety concerns.
The great Michael Schumacher achieved four Formula 1 victories at the Hockenheimring, while plenty of other racing greats have competed in DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), a.k.a. the German Touring Car championship, World RX (rallycross), EuroNASCAR, and the World Endurance (Sportscar) Championship, in which Porsche has run away with many class victories and championships.
Stunning Stone Grey beige earth-tone joined by beautiful Bronzite highlights
No doubt the new 2022 Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition’s most eye-catching feature is its Stone Grey exterior paint, which we dare you to call beige. As if a car that can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds could ever be considered beige, let alone one that looks as dramatic as any Taycan, but it’s also a bit browner than grey, so we’ll have to accept that Porsche used some creative license when positioning this hue within their “Heritage” colour palette’s nomenclature and leave it there.
It’s part of Porsche’s Paint to Sample program, as is Bronzite that gets used for the five twinned spokes of this unique Taycan’s 21-inch Mission E Design alloy wheels, the rims painted in Stone Grey to match the car’s bodywork. Bronzite also adorns the car’s side skirts, rear diffuser, and Taycan badges.
Island Green highlights combine with Paldao hardwood inside
The Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition’s cabin is slightly more subtle in execution than its sheet metal, much due to black leather being used throughout, except for a thin strip of Island Green leather found atop the steering wheel as a centre marking. Island Green stitching gets used in all the right places too, while Paldao hardwood inlays dress up key areas and yet more Bronzite can be found where satin-silver might otherwise be, including the steering wheel spokes, gear lever and surrounding area, HVAC vent slats, and even the rim around each cupholder.
Additionally, the Hockenheimring Edition’s carpeted floor mats get yet more Island Green highlights, while a Hockenheimring track map and special logo get embossed into the leather-clad centre armrest, as does the key fob, illuminated door sills, and projector LEDs that light up the ground below the doors. Capping this special model off, Porsche fixed a special badge with the same logo and track layout to the outer B pillars.
New Hockenheimring Edition built on ultra-quick Taycan GTS underpinnings
The new Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition, which is only available as a sedan, makes 590 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, which means that along with its aforementioned 3.7-second run from standstill to 100 km/h, it can manage a terminal velocity of 250 km/h, while GTS trim also provides the longest WLTP-estimated range of any other Taycan trim, at 504 km.
Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition. Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur (1:36) (Note: this video is in German):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
The mid-size sedan might be a dying breed, especially in Canada where they’ve never been as popular as compact four-doors and hatchbacks, but Hyundai hasn’t given up on it like some others in this…
The mid-size sedan might be a dying breed, especially in Canada where they’ve never been as popular as compact four-doors and hatchbacks, but Hyundai hasn’t given up on it like some others in this class. In fact, the Sonata was given a complete eighth-generation redesign for the 2020 model year, so therefore its seriously menacing new face carried forward unchanged into 2021, and will so once again for 2022.
Menacing yes, but that’s not to say I don’t like the look. As seen on this as-tested Sonata Hybrid Ultimate, which gets more chrome than some other Sonata trims, such as the sporty new N Line variant, and particularly when that grille is surrounded by Hampton Grey paint that comes across as more of a champagne-taupe in some lighting conditions, the snarly look is almost soft and approachable. Whether you find it intensely angry or just purposefully intent, the new Sonata does appear consequential, and when push comes to shove it should be, because it’s doing the serious work of minimizing its eco-footprint while maximizing range and performance.
The Sonata Hybrid’s fuel economy is superb at 5.3 L/100km in the city, 4.6 on the highway and 5.0 even combined. It’s even a smidge better than similarly-equipped Toyota Camry Hybrids that come rated at 5.3 L/100km city, 5.0 highway and 5.1 combined (the Camry Hybrid’s base LE trim does better at 4.9, 4.8 and 4.9 respectively), and considerably more efficient than the Honda Accord Hybrid that gets a 5.3 city, 5.7 highway and 5.5 combined rating.
Even more surprising was the Sonata Hybrid’s acceleration and all-round performance, especially when the net numbers showed just 192 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. It certainly felt more potent off the line than these figures suggest, plus thanks to steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, its six-speed automatic transmission was quite engaging as well.
The Sonata Hybrid responds eagerly when pushed hard through corners too, plus it tracks confidently at high speeds in any condition, including on wet, slippery roads. It even remained stable when yanked aggressively toward the centre median by a large puddle, something much-needed and often appreciated in my city’s mostly wet winter weather.
Additionally, the button-operated gear selector is one of the best electronic transmission controllers I’ve tested, as it’s laid out intuitively and can all be actuated without moving the hand very far. Unlike some others (I’m speaking to you Honda/Acura), Hyundai’s quickly became second-nature, never leaving me mentally stranded in dumbfounded, panic-stricken overwhelm when coming up short of a turning circle-deprived U-turn with traffic approaching.
Interestingly, the electromechanical parking brake doesn’t automatically release when skipping a step and simply putting the car into Drive ahead of hitting the throttle, which is normally how these things work. I guess Hyundai felt it was best to err on e-brake safety, so be prepared to flick the switch manually each time you set out.
A two-way memory driver’s seat will automatically adjust you or your significant other back into your chosen position at the press of a single button, mind you, and I must say the driver’s positioning was superb overall. It comes complete with plenty of reach from the manually-operated tilt-and-telescopic steering column, while the seat itself was blissfully comfortable, despite only providing two-way lumbar support.
Both front seats get amped up with three-way heating and/or cooling, however, while the heated steering wheel rim put out near finger-scorching warmth—Hyundai may want to consider allowing drivers to tone it down a bit by adding a dual-mode temperature setting. Speaking of warmth, a dual-zone automatic climate control system made it easy to maintain an ideal level of cabin air comfort, while the centre stack-mounted interface was easy to sort out.
Now that I’m on the subject of instrument panel interfaces, there’s no shortage of digital displays inside this top-tier Hyundai. For starters, the only hint to things analogue about the gauge cluster is the nicely designed graphical nod to yesteryear’s circular speedometer and tachometer dials, with the division between both comes filled with a multi-information display-style assortment of functions. The display quality is very high in definition, while its reaction to inputs is instantaneous, and its feature set good for the class.
Being a hybrid, my tester included an animated energy-flow graphic at centre when the car was set to Eco mode, with surrounding colours being a mix of aqua-green and blues when so set, but everything glowed red in Sport mode, not that choosing the fiery hue was a particularly original thing for Hyundai to do (hey designers, how about orange or yellow just to separate your cars from the masses?). This said, Hyundai leaves a version of its Eco metre on the right-side dial no matter which drive mode the car is set to, with the Smart setting a personal favourite, being that it feels ready and waiting to either drive as frugally as possible more often than not, or as quickly as possible when called upon.
Hyundai added rear-facing cameras below the Sonata’s side mirrors last year, which project a live image onto the left- or right-side primary gauge cluster dials when engaging either turn signal. This is an absolutely brilliant feature that more competitors should adopt, but so far Hyundai, plus its Kia and Genesis sibling brands, are the only ones to offer it simultaneously with advanced driver technologies such as blind-spot monitoring, or lane change warning and intervention.
Of note, Honda was actually first with a turn signal-activated rear camera system dubbed LaneWatch, which I raved about when more readily available, but recently the Japanese brand has been phasing it out in favour of blind-spot monitoring. Kudos to Hyundai for created an even better dual-sided camera system (Honda’s was only added to their cars’ passenger-side blind-spot), and then making it available alongside all of its advanced driver assistance and safety features.
A glance to the right shows a centre display that’s as high in definition as the digital gauge cluster, which means it’s impressive as well. It’s about the same size too, and utilizes a touchscreen-controlled scrolling tile system that features three large tiles at startup. These can be organised as per preferences, with the stock setup including a navigation map on the left, audio functions in the middle, and fuel economy readouts to the right. Hyundai also includes some touch-sensitive buttons down each side of the display, plus a volume knob. I would’ve appreciated a tuning/scrolling knob (usually on the right) as well, and considering this car is probably targeting a more mature crowd than most others in Hyundai’s lineup, I’m guessing an analogue dial for tuning in radio stations or changing tracks would be appreciated by more folks than just me.
The navigation system worked faultlessly during my multiple-week test, and the audio system impressed even more, not only filling the car with streaming media and satellite radio, both of which I use all the time, but its sound quality was very good for this class.
I was also happy to see a wireless charging pad at the base of the centre stack, plus USB charge points for the wired crowd, not to mention the availability of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, the former having become my go-to smartphone connectivity tool as of late. The charging pad wasn’t working when I first got the car, but I was able to set it up easily via the infotainment system’s settings page, where I found countless cool personalization possibilities as well.
Looking upward, there’s an attractive overhead console, but no moonroof. That’s an unusual site in this class, but maybe more fitting in a car that’s partially powered by a motive battery, Hyundai replaced the traditional moonroof with a non-translucent glass solar roof. That’s right, the cool glass section on the front half of the Sonata Hybrid’s outer roof is only visible when outside of the vehicle, and while the lack of a sunroof wasn’t much of an issue for me, it was a very strange omission after 20-plus years of testing cars, and one I can imagine some may be totally put off by. After all, the only cars without sunroofs have long been cheap, base models, which this Sonata Hybrid Ultimate is not.
Along with the aforementioned comfortable front seats that included all the usual adjustments in this class, the cabin provided very impressive finishing. The dash top was mostly softish composite, except for the shroud overtop the instrument cluster and the very front portion of the dash under the windshield (some might call this the back portion), which alternatively gets a textured, soft-painted composite.
Even better, to the left and right of the dash top’s sloping section, plus around the centre display, nicely stitched and padded leatherette added an element of luxury. There’s more of this highfalutin stuff elsewhere too, particularly on the door panels front and back, plus the just-noted soft-painted surfacing gets used for additional touchpoints as well. Lastly, some of the mainstream sector’s usual hard-shell plastic can be found in the interior’s lower regions, but it’s nicely textured and seems well put together, as does everything else in the cabin.
Rear seat legroom is excellent, while the backrests and lower cushions are very comfortable. A large, wide armrest folds down from centre, featuring the usual dual integrated cupholders, plus outboard rear passengers also get two-way heatable seats, with switchgear next to each power window controller on the door armrests. Lastly, a USB-A charging port can be found on the backside of the front centre console, just below a set of heat/air vents.
The Sonata Hybrid’s trunk is identically sized to the regular Sonata’s cargo area too, this not having always been the case with hybrid models due to rear-bulkhead-mounted battery packs (the old Ford Fusion Hybrid’s battery was quite intrusive). It’s therefore quite spacious at 453 litres (16.0 cu ft), while the trunk’s usefulness can be expanded upon with the usual 60/40 split rear seatbacks.
At the time of publishing, Hyundai had yet to update its retail site with 2022 Sonata Hybrid information, which probably means 2021 models are still available. Either way, CarCostCanada had and still has 2022 and 2021 model year details, so suffice to say the 2022 is pretty well identical to its predecessor, other than the addition of new Shimmering Silver optional paint to go along with the same five upgraded hues that were also available last year. All six optional colours add $200 to the bottom line, whereas Hyper White is the only standard shade, and therefore the only way you can get a 2022 Sonata Hybrid for $40,649 (plus freight and fees), before negotiating a discount that is.
When putting pen to paper, so to speak, Hyundai was offering up to $2,000 in additional incentives, although most CarCostCanada members were saving an average of $1,500, thanks to knowledge of these incentives as well as having dealer invoice pricing info on hand when negotiating. All said, the 2022 Sonata Hybrid is $450 pricier than the 2021, the latter still starting at $40,199. Both model years are only available in one Ultimate trim, which means there are no options other than just-noted colours.
So, if you’re looking for a luxuriously appointed mid-size sedan with an impressive balance of efficiency and performance, you should seriously consider Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid. If you don’t mind being greeted by a menacing frown each morning, I can promise it’ll deliver plenty of smiles throughout the rest of each day.
by Trevor Hofmann
For many in Canada, Volkswagen is more of an afterthought when considering a new vehicle. Last year it sat 12th amongst mainstream volume brands in sales volume, with the lion’s share of new deliveries…
For many in Canada, Volkswagen is more of an afterthought when considering a new vehicle. Last year it sat 12th amongst mainstream volume brands in sales volume, with the lion’s share of new deliveries going to Ford (at 232,194 units), Toyota (196,882), Honda (146,582), Hyundai (133,059) and Chevrolet (111,741), although only the Asian brands offer anything in the compact car class, so therefore this segment’s sales hierarchy looks a lot different when comparing both brand popularity and individual model success.
Last year, Volkswagen was the fourth best-selling brand in this category (at 23,665 units) when combining Golf (13,113), Jetta (10,552) and Beetle (460) deliveries, with the Golf placing sixth amongst individual models, the Jetta seventh, and the Beetle way down in 17th, which incidentally was second to last being that it wasn’t the only car being discontinued (Chevy’s Volt found its last nine buyers in 2020 too).
As for the first two quarters of 2021, the Beetle was dead last after just three units were shuffled off to future collectors, while the placement of the Golf and Jetta remained the same with 5,707 and 5,618 examples sold respectively. The big change in the segment comes from Nissan’s new Sentra that’s now right behind the Jetta with 5,004 deliveries to its credit, whereas Subaru’s Impreza and WRX/STI lost significant ground due to just 1,724 and 1,548 respective units down the road, which is probably due to an all-new WRX/STI soon debuting for 2022, plus a new Impreza (and Crosstrek) to follow for 2023.
Others losing steam in this segment include Hyundai’s Ioniq that only sold 1,538 units compared to Toyota’s Prius at 3,107, but the Korean brand’s Ioniq Electric is set to be replaced by the much more intriguing Ioniq 5 in the fall, while Nissan’s all-electric Leaf just seems to be withering on the vine with just 639 sales to its name, although 2022 will see a substantially lower price that should boost interest. Additionally, Hyundai’s Veloster will only come in super-quick N trim for 2022, probably the result of the rest of the line not getting much action, verified by only 328 deliveries, and finally the slowest selling car in this class is Honda’s Insight hybrid, which at a mere 193 unit-sales is getting slaughtered by other HEVs that sell for thousands less.
With the Puebla, Mexico-built Golf leaving our market after this year, Volkswagen will likely take a major negative hit in this segment too, falling behind others that focus more on reliability and comfort over perceived performance, although to be clear, Golf GTI and Golf R models will remain, as will the entire Jetta lineup, including its sportiest GLI variant.
It’s difficult to say if the Jetta will be able to take up the slack on its own, being that other five-door alternatives like the new 2022 Civic Hatchback, the Corolla Hatchback, the Kia Forte 5, the Mazda3 Sport, the Impreza 5-Door, and some other stragglers noted a moment ago, could fill in VW’s entry-level hatchback void. Of course, the German brand will hope such buyers will ante up for its new Taos subcompact crossover SUV, which is sized similarly, or the slightly larger compact Tiguan, while the all-new ID.4 kind of fills the void left by the Golf Alltrack (more on that car in a moment), albeit with an all-electric twist.
With all of that business out of the way, why choose a 2021 Jetta, or for that matter the 2022 model that shouldn’t change by much? Compared to the 2019 version, which was the first year of this seventh-generation body style, the 2021 infuses VW’s new MIB3 infotainment software into an interface that looks pretty well identical, although it’s the system beneath the graphics that matters most, thanks to including wireless App-Connect, enhanced voice recognition, USB-C charging, upgrades to the navigation system, and SiriusXM with 360L streaming and satellite content, while a wireless charging pad now sits on the lower console below in as-tested Execline trim.
As for choosing a Jetta over one of its four-door competitors, that will come down to a lot of factors including styling, its Germanic feel, and on that note, its performance. Of course, the GLI is the Jetta version to drive if you’ve got a passion for going fast, but this said all Jettas have usually tended to be more engaging than most of their Asian alternatives. Performance has been a priority for the brand since the Golf/Rabbit arrived on our shores in 1975, with the sportier GTI variant hitting the market in 1979, three years before our American friends received theirs.
The Jetta, which back then was basically a two-door Rabbit with a trunk, arrived here in 1980, and quickly became our best-selling European import. A wagon (always a personal favourite) was introduced at the turn of the millennium for the Golf’s fourth and fifth generations, although that baton was dubbed SportWagen when passed over to the seventh-gen Golf line, and even ended up being offered as a soft-roading crossover dubbed Alltrack that featured some SUV-like bodywork and raised ground clearance in an attempt to take on Subaru’s Crosstrek.
While wagon fans (including yours truly) still lament the loss of both Jetta and Golf variants, there’s a lot to love about the sedan, especially in top-tier Execline trim. The four-door’s styling has received mixed reviews, but that’s hardly unusual in this entry-level class. Honda is undergoing the same type of scrutiny with its new 2022 Civic after the brand followed its usual two steps forward, one step back routine (it’s as if there’s a tug-of-war between styling progressives and conservatives resulting in each side winning out every other generation), while Toyota appears to have hit the sweet spot with its latest Corolla, although the sharply chiseled new Hyundai Elantra is giving both of these top-sellers a run for their design money.
The other Korean, Kia’s Forte, continues to look attractively conservative and thus places fourth in this class, just ahead of Mazda’s rakish 3 that’s probably the closest competitor to the Jetta and Golf due to its performance-oriented personality, this possibly why the smaller, independent brand’s compact hatchback and sedan models sit so close to the Golf and Jetta on the aforementioned sales chart.
Moving inside, the Jetta is a tour de force when it comes to electronics. The just-noted infotainment system is very good, thanks to a high-definition gloss touchscreen, attractive graphics, an easy-to-understand layout and quick response to inputs, not to mention real analogue knobs for the power/volume and tuning/scrolling functions, plus it’s one of the only touchscreens in the industry to feature proximity-sensing capability, which means that bringing your hand towards the display causes a row of digital buttons to automatically pop up even before your finger touches the screen. It’s a really cool effect, but it’s also useful because, when those buttons automatically disappear, the entire display is made larger for whatever function you’re using.
Of course, the infotainment system comes filled with all the expected features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and control of the decent sounding Beats Audio system, complete with eight speakers and a sub, but I must say the backup camera is a bit subpar for a top-line model in this segment, not for its clarity, which is excellent, but rather for not including dynamic guidelines.
Nevertheless, the Jetta Execline’s fully configurable 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, that’s exclusive to Execline trim and the top-level GLI, is in another world compared to anything else offered in this class. Certainly, others include fully digital gauge packages in upper trims, one that I recently drove being the 2021 Elantra in top-line Ultimate dress, but like the new 2022 Civic’s take on this tech, its navigation map wasn’t capable of filling the entire screen like Volkswagen’s. I know that’s not the end-all, be-all of functions, but just like this feature wowed me in Audi’s Virtual Cockpit before, it once again had me mesmerized in the Jetta, even providing the ability to zoom in and out from a button on the right-side steering wheel spoke. The active display does more than just that, of course, offering up a smaller map with surrounding info in another mode, plus a particularly colourful duo of circular gauges in its default setting, not to mention plenty of other features in numerous configurations.
Framing the gauge cluster is another VW favourite, the Jetta’s flat-bottom sport steering wheel, which is one of the nicest in its segment thanks to a meaty soft leather-covered rim with wonderfully form-fitting thumb spats to each side and grippy baseball-style stitching around the inner ring, plus thin spokes filled with high-quality switchgear, while those spokes are dressed up with a tasteful splash of aluminized brightwork and piano black lacquered surfaces.
Yet more satin-finish accents and inky black highlights can be found throughout the rest of the cabin, but it’s not overdone like some rivals from the east. I prefer to call the Jetta’s interior purposeful rather than austere, but I’m sure some will find the mostly muted black interior a tad conservative, bright and colourful displays aside.
This said, most of the pliable composite surfaces that made earlier (pre-2010) Jettas feel like premium rides have been eliminated, only leaving a rubberized soft-touch dash top and upper instrument panel, plus equally pampering front door uppers. The only model in this class with less appealing plastics is the Elantra that doesn’t even offer soft door uppers up front, but we’re not exactly comparing D-segment luxury sedans here. The clear differentiator is Volkswagen’s choice of hard plastics south of the waste line, other than the comfortable padded leatherette used for the door inserts and armrest, as well as the centre armrest overtop the console bin, which are nicely padded in plush leatherette.
The front seats, on the other hand, are firmer than any in this class and most in the entire industry, which is a bit unusual considering the Jetta Execline’s comfort-oriented mission. I’d normally never complain about cushion firmness, but the Jetta’s seem designed by someone who dreams on a tatami mat. These things go beyond just firm, with a lower cushion that actually became quite uncomfortable on longer stints during my weeklong test.
Oddly, GLIs, GTIs, and even Golf Rs that I tested previously never felt this way, but at least the Jetta’s side bolsters were excellent, while the six-way power-adjustment on its driver’s side (the front passenger gets no such luxuries), with two-way powered lumbar support that met the small of my back ideally, plus three-way memory no less, came to the rescue as best it could, as did the soft perforated leather that provided an exit strategy for forced ventilation, which kept me cool when otherwise ready to fume about my aching back. Their heatable capability was even more useful in this situation, as my driver’s seat warmed to near therapeutic temperatures in order to ease two inflamed ischia. More on the positive, better than average reach and rake from the tilt and telescopic steering column made for a great driving position, while the steering wheel rim in Execline trim is also heatable, as are the rear outboard seats.
Also positive, my tester’s rear outboard seats were truly superb, with more of a bucket-like feel than any others I’ve experienced in this class, thanks to excellent side bolstering that really wrapped all around my backside. The same can be said for the lower cushions, which provided a little more padding than the driver’s seat, or so they felt. VW includes a nice and wide flip-down armrest with integrated cupholders in the middle position, so together with the door armrests the rear outboard seating area is comfortable for both forearms.
As for space, I had about half-a-foot in front of my knees and plenty of room to stretch out my legs, with feet under the front seats when the driver’s position was set for my long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight frame. Additionally, I had about three-and-a-half inches left over above my head, plus plenty of space next to my shoulders and hips. I’m not sure if the Jetta is best-in-class for rear seat roominess, but I’m guessing it’s very close. Volkswagen should be commended for this, but unfortunately the rear compartment’s finishing was less appealing than most in this category, including the expected hard plastic door upper, but also hard plastic door inserts that are almost never part of the package. At least the powered sunroof overhead was almost panoramic, helping to visually open the car up to more natural light.
Like the rear passenger compartment, the trunk is large at almost 400 litres (14.1 cu ft), while the lid lifts up high and out of the way, but be careful to push it all the way up, because if you leave it down even slightly it will fall and smack you in the head, which happened to me once during my test. Also different from most Volkswagens, the Jetta only offers 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks instead of the usual 40/20/40-split used in the Golf and other VW products. This limits the usability of the trunk when going skiing, for instance, especially if rear passengers want to enjoy the aforementioned seat warmers, but such is the same for most of the Jetta’s peers.
Leaving the best for last, I set the dual-zone automatic climate control system to 21.5C via outer rings wrapping large circular dials that wiggled a bit too much for my liking, their digital readouts bookending a row of nicely damped buttons that included those needed for warming buttocks and backside, after which I turned the fuel-saving auto start-stop system off and the drive mode setting from Normal to Sport, disregarding Eco and Custom, the lower-console mounted buttons for these rather sloppy and noisy, unfortunately, unlike the nice and tight aluminized ignition button and little electromechanical brake lever found nearby. I then slotted the eight-speed automatic’s gear lever into “D” for drive before shoving it over to the right to “S” for manual shift mode, and let the Jetta’s impressive 1.4-litre turbo-four spool up as much of its 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque as possible before launching from standstill.
It’s the torque that matters most in this little mill, with all of its available twist from just 1,400 rpm, while the gearbox is quick-shifting and very smooth, only needing a set of steering wheel paddles to make it more engaging. These come with the GLI, incidentally, along with a much faster-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while its 2.0-litre turbocharged four puts out a much more energetic 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of just 6.6 seconds compared to 8.7 for the Jetta Execline, although opting for the more comfort-oriented Jetta pays of at the pump.
Driving more modestly in Eco mode results in 8.0 L/100km in the city, 6.0 on the highway and 7.1 combined in the Jetta Execline, whereas the automated transmission in the GLI is only good for a claimed 9.7 city, 7.0 highway and 8.5 combined. The GLI can be had with a six-speed manual too, by the way, which is identically quick and exactly as efficient with fuel, while the regular Jetta with its base six-speed manual (not available in the Execline) manages just 7.9 city, 5.8 highway and 6.9 combined for truly stingy operation, plus it reportedly takes exactly the same amount of time to arrive at 100 km/h from standstill as my automatic-equipped tester.
Better than its straight-line performance, the Jetta Execline provides a nicely weighted, electrically assisted rack and pinion steering system resulting in good handling for the class, despite incorporating a less-than-ideal semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension setup. The front suspension uses independent Macpherson struts, par for the course in just about any segment, but only the GLI gets an upgrade to a multi-link rear suspension design, which is much better for absorbing pavement irregularities and therefore keeping rubber on the road where it can apply traction.
Comparatively, even Honda’s most basic Civic LX comes standard with a fully independent suspension including a rear multi-link rear setup, as does Toyota’s simplest Corolla L, and Nissan’s cheapest Sentra S, while Subaru’s least expensive Impreza with Convenience trim uses independent double wishbones, which aid comfort yet are more durable for heavier loads, and easier for tuners to tweak, not to mention easy for technicians to adjust for wheel alignment. What about the Golf? Unlike the Jetta, the most affordable Golf Comfortline gets the more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension setup, so while that model is still available it remains the go-to car for lower end VW performance enthusiasts, a worthwhile investment for just $1,500 more.
As you may have noticed I left out plenty of Jetta competitors when comparing suspension designs, so it’s only fair to add that the Elantra, Forte, and Mazda3 utilize a similar rear torsion beam setup, which is prized for reducing cost and improving rear packaging, the latter sometimes resulting in increased cargo capacity.
In the end, the Jetta is a good car that deserves its success, however middling that may be. It hits high in some areas, such as roominess and advanced electronics, but doesn’t really match up in interior plastics quality, front seat comfort, and overall performance, the rear end getting skittish when pushed hard around curves over rough pavement, something the Civic and Corolla, for instance, don’t do.
If it were my money and a VW was the target brand, I’d opt for a Golf every day of the week, due to its sharper styling, much better interior quality (even including cloth A pillars), wholly improved handling, and the increased usability (albeit less security) of its rear hatch. To think this model is on its way out is criminal, but it’s not Volkswagen’s fault that Canadians aren’t buying as many cars these days as they used to, instead opting for crossover SUVs more often than not. At least we’ll still have the fabulous GTI and Golf R, while as noted the Jetta GLI is a credible performance car as well.
The 2021 Jetta starts at a very reasonable $21,595 in Comfortline trim with its six-speed manual, while my Execline model is available from $28,995. Good news, Volkswagen is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional no-haggle incentives, while CarCostCanada members were averaging $1,527 in savings at the time of writing, thanks to their ability to access dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands at the time of purchase. Make sure to find out how a CarCostCanada membership can help save you money when purchasing your next new car, and remember to download their free app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, plus check out the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta Canada Prices page to find out pricing for all the Jetta’s other trim lines, including the GLI.
Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann
I’ve got to admit, Honda’s hybrid and full-electric strategy has long baffled the mind. Despite being second in the world and first in North America amongst modern-day hybrid makers, the Japanese…
I’ve got to admit, Honda’s hybrid and full-electric strategy has long baffled the mind. Despite being second in the world and first in North America amongst modern-day hybrid makers, the Japanese brand’s combined love affair with impractical two-seat electrified sport coupes and hybrid five-passenger sedans, the latter providing real sales success stories, has left them with a much smaller slice of the alternative fuels market than they most likely would’ve enjoyed if they’d devoted all of their wired investment into highly marketable projects.
I’m going to guess that Honda’s best-selling electron-infused effort to date is the Civic Hybrid, just because of the sheer number of them I’ve seen on the road over the past decade-plus, although the brand never parsed out hybrid sales numbers from Civics using their conventional powertrains, so only those on the inside know for sure (please tell me I’m wrong, Honda). In fact, the decision to add a hybrid power unit to Canada’s most popular car was so smart that Toyota finally copied them with its latest Corolla Hybrid, a model that now partners the hybrid sector’s long-time best-selling Prius in the compact segment (just a quick note to let you know the new Sienna minivan, only available as a hybrid, just surpassed the Prius as the number-one hybrid seller in the US, not to mention the best-selling minivan).
Mentioning the Prius pulls memories of a particularly poorly planned successor to Honda’s original Insight, or at least most buyers thought so, as did I after initially testing it. While the first-generation 1999–2006 Insight needs to be slotted into the impractical two-seat electrified sport coupe category I noted a moment ago, the second-gen 2009–2014 Insight came across like an embarrassing admission of the first car’s failure. Honda came as close to copying the second-generation Prius as it could without being sued for plagiarism, but the rather bland hatchback didn’t look as good or go as well as its key rival. To be fair, it was the best-selling car overall in Japan for the month of April, 2009 (three months after going on sale), besting Honda’s own Fit for top spot, but North American buyers were never so enthusiastic. I could only get excited about its fuel economy at the time, which admittedly was superb.
After a reasonable five-year stint (2011–2016) playing around with another impractical two-seat electrified sport coupe dubbed CR-Z, a stylish runabout that I happened to like a lot, yet not enough buyers with real money agreed, the third-gen Insight arrived as a more attractive (in my opinion) Civic Hybrid, sans the name (an initial image of the new 2022 Civic shows the brand is leaning toward a more conservative design approach).
At first, I considered Honda’s choice of rebadging what’s little more than a hybridized Civic with the Insight nameplate as a stroke of genius (don’t ask me for marketing advice), but as it soon became apparent by the lack of Insights on the roads around my hybrid-infused Vancouver homeland (Honda chose the 2018 Vancouver International Auto Show for its launch, after all), it hasn’t been a hit.
It seems, much as Honda wants to keep the Insight legacy alive, or maybe just shine a prettier light on it, the comparatively obscure moniker’s historical relevance is no match for household name recognition (and another key issue I’ll go into more detail about later). As noted earlier, only Honda has the internal data to compare the percentage of Insights and Civic sedans it sells now to Civic Hybrid and conventionally-powered Civic sedans it sold in the past, but as stated at the beginning of this review, my guess is the old Civic Hybrid made a much bigger impact on the brand’s small car sales chart.
Enough about Honda’s hybrid duopoly of Civic and Accord success stories and insightful missteps, mind you, because the question that matters more is whether or not the latest Insight is any good. Of course, being based on the Civic can only mean that it’s inherently an excellent car, so therefore adding Honda’s well-proven hybrid drivetrain to the mix can only make it better from a fuel-efficiency standpoint, or at least that’s what I deduced after a week behind the wheel.
The powertrain consists of a 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (ICE), an electric propulsion motor, and a 60-cell lithium-ion battery, with the end result being an enthusiastic 151 net horsepower and an even heartier 197 lb-ft of torque. Claimed fuel economy is 4.6 L/100km in the city, 5.3 on the highway, and 4.9 combined, which is exemplary when comparing it to most conventionally powered sedans in its compact category. Even the thriftiest version of Honda’s Civic sedan is downright thirsty when viewed side-by-side, its rating of 7.9 L/100km city, 6.1 highway and 7.1 combined stacking up well against competitors, yet not so impressive next to the Insight. Then again, sidle up Toyota’s aforementioned Corolla Hybrid beside to the Insight and its 4.4 city, 4.5 highway and 4.5 combined rating edges it out.
Of course, even hybrids aren’t all about fuel economy. Straight-line performance matters too, as does handling, refinement, style, etcetera. Before venturing away from driving dynamics, I have to mention how wonderfully smooth the Insight’s drivetrain is. It uses a continuously variable transmission, which is par for the course across most of the Civic line, and not uncommon amongst competitors too, Corolla included, so as long as driven calmly it’s pure bliss.
Step into the throttle with Sport mode engaged and it moves along quickly enough too, but the CVT keeps the engine at higher revs for longer than a conventional automatic would, and therefore produces more noise and harshness. I’m willing to guess most hybrid drivers don’t deep dive into the go-pedal all that often, however, so this probably won’t be a big issue. It certainly wasn’t for the duration of my test week, as I drove it in its default Comfort, Econ and EV settings more often than not.
On Honda’s side, the Insight’s all-electric mode is much more useful than the EV modes in Toyota’s Corolla or non-plug-in Prius, as it can actually be used at city speeds without automatically switching into hybrid mode, or in other words have the ICE kick back in. Unless moving up to one of Toyota’s plug-in Prime models, their ICEs automatically turn on at around 20 km/h, making it impossible to drive around town on electric power alone.
Some of my city’s poorly paved streets made me grateful for the Insight’s well sorted suspension, incidentally, as the ride is very good for its compact dimensions. This is partially due to an independent rear suspension setup, which is ideal for soaking up bumps and ruts no matter the speed, not to mention keeping the rear of the car from hopping around when driving quickly through imperfect asphalt mid-corner. Yes, it handles quite well, with the Insight’s battery weight hidden under the rear seat for a low centre of gravity.
You’ll be wanting to use the previously noted Sport mode for such situations, but don’t expect to manually row a gear lever through stepped intervals to so, because you won’t find any such thing. Instead, the Insight lets you swap “cogs” via much more engaging steering wheel paddles, while using Honda’s pushbutton gear selector for PRND, complete with a pull switch for reverse. It looks clean and elegant, plus saves airspace above for uninhibited access to centre stack controls, yet leaves more than enough room nearby on the lower console for stowing a large smartphone.
The latter includes a rubberized tray, plus a couple of USB charging ports and a 12-volt charger just ahead, these items forming the base of the centre stack that continues to be well organized and filled with plenty of useful features, such as an attractive dual-zone automatic climate control interface, integrating a strip of quick-access buttons for the three-way heatable front seats and more. It’s all topped off by the same big 8.0-inch touchscreen Civic owners will be all too familiar with, incorporating attractive, colourful, easy-to-use graphics that are laid out in a convenient tile format, with functions such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, an accurate navigation system in my Touring trimmed tester, and an engine/battery power flow indicator that can be fun to watch.
For those unfamiliar (which would include those trading up from a base second-gen Insight, or those still driving base Civic Hybrids from the same era), the display works like a smartphone or tablet, letting you tap, pinch, or swipe to perform various functions, while Honda has also lined each side with some quick access buttons. On the left is a one for the home screen, plus another for the return or back function, one for swapping between day and night screens, two more for scrolling between radio stations or tracks, and lo and behold an actual volume knob that I used more often than the redundant one on the left-side steering wheel spoke.
Honda lights up the name of each feature so they’ll be easy to see at night, but this caused me to press the name instead of the little black button below when getting acclimatized, my mind seemingly pre-programmed for touch-sensitive controls these days. Some will be ok with this unorthodox analogue setup, while others, like yours truly, will wonder why Honda didn’t choose larger buttons with integrated backlit names, but being that this was my only criticism after a week on the road, I say they’re batting 300.
The primary instruments are fully digital, with those on the right housing a speedometer and gas gauge, and the left portion of the cluster featuring a multi-information display filled with helpful hybrid info, including a battery charge indicator. Switchgear on the steering wheel spokes control the MID, and I must say they’re very well made and ideally fitted in place, just like all the buttons, knobs and rockers throughout the rest of the cabin. These include controls on the overhead console too, which houses a set of incandescent reading lights, an emergency assist button, a HomeLink garage door opener, and a rocker switch for the regularly sized powered glass sunroof.
Following this high-quality theme, the Insight’s interior comes close to Acura ILX levels of fit, finish, and materials quality. The dash top, for instance, consists of a really impressive soft-touch synthetic surface treatment, while a padded and French-stitched leatherette bolster ahead of the front passenger continues over the entire instrument panel all the way down the side of the centre stack, which made it a shame that Honda didn’t finish the driver’s area to the same impressive level. Each side of the lower console is done just as nicely, however, matching the sliding centre armrest. Additionally, the front door uppers receive the same high-quality treatment as the dash top, while the door inserts get a similar stitched leatherette to the instrument panel bolster. It all looks very upscale, with refinement that’s on an entirely new level for Honda’s compact offerings.
The driver’s seat is up to Honda’s usual high standards too, with plenty of support and good adjustability, while the tilt and telescopic steering column provides ample reach and rake, not always the case with some competitors regarding the former. I couldn’t make mention of the steering wheel without adding that it’s thick, meaty, and shaped like it came out of a performance car, or one of Honda’s impractical two-seat electrified sport coupes (I know I’m going to get hate mail from all those CR-Z fans out there, but don’t slay me for pointing out the fact that an otherwise good car wasn’t exactly a runaway sales success).
Much like the spacious front seating area, the rear passenger compartment is roomy and comfortable, seemingly on par with the regular Civic. Likewise, the trunk could also be from a Civic, and even includes storage space under the cargo floor for random items. Honda stows the car’s tire repair pump in this location, a requirement for fixing flats as no spare tire is included. The segment’s usual 60/40 split-folding rear seatback configuration expands the trunk’s usefulness when needed, growing it from 416 litres (14.7 cu ft) to who knows how much (but ample for skis and boards) when lowered.
Yes, the Insight is a spacious, comfortable four-door sedan with a very practical, secure trunk, plus a good performance and fuel economy compromise, along with an impressively crafted interior with excellent electronics, and in my opinion, very attractive styling. If rebadged with the Civic Hybrid name, I think it would sell better than it does, simply because everyone knows someone with a Civic. This said, don’t let any negative connotations about old Insights dissuade you from buying the current model. In fact, if you can get one for the right price, I’d highly recommend it, and I’d also recommend that Honda get even more practical with future hybrids, like possibly a CR-V Hybrid for the Canadian market?
It’s hard to understand why Honda allowed others to hybridize the SUV segment before they got around to it, but unfathomably there’s still nothing in their Canadian lineup to compete with electrified versions of the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape and others, an especially odd predicament for the Japanese brand to find itself in when considering the CR-V is built right here in Canada.
The problem is reportedly due to Honda’s inability to build an electrified version in its Alliston, Ontario plant, and unwillingness to procure one from its U.S. manufacturing division (according to multiple sources quoting Honda Canada VP of marketing and sales, Jean-Marc Leclerc, selling a CR-V Hybrid here would simply not be profitable). They don’t seem to be having much trouble selling CR-Vs as it is, but the latest RAV4 has taken over top spot in the segment, possibly due at least partially to its past regular hybrid and current plug-in Prime variants.
Until the powers that be at Honda choose to take on hybrid challengers within Canada’s fastest growing compact SUV segment, the only two electrified vehicles in the lineup will remain this Insight, the larger mid-size Accord Hybrid, and the brand’s rather unusual looking Clarity Plug-in Hybrid (good luck trying to find one of those on the road). All three are sedans, with the latter two approximately the same size and therefore somewhat redundant (I’d argue they would have done better with an Accord plug-in). Again, Honda’s electrification strategy remains a mystery. At least the Insight and Accord hybrids are straightforward in design and four-door functionality, with either being a good choice for those desiring a sedan body style. If only there were more buyers for this type of vehicle these days.
To wrap it up, as of April’s close, Honda has delivered a grand total of 15,629 CR-Vs so far this year, which sounds quite good until noting Toyota’s 23,585 RAV4 sales total, of which I’m willing to guess (again) about 25 percent were hybrids (electrified vehicle sales have been surging in Canada over the past two years, and RAV4 Hybrid sales were already at 22 percent in 2019). Canada’s third best-selling vehicle is Honda’s Civic, by the way, with 10,884 units down the road so far in 2021, while the previously mentioned Corolla is a close fourth at 10,788 YTD sales to its credit.
Even if the Corolla Hybrid only managed 15 percent of that model’s total sales, it would have achieved more than 1,500 deliveries since the beginning of the year, which totally destroys Insight deliveries of just 132 units over the same four months, and sadly that’s after seeing 1.5 percent year-over-year sales growth. It can’t be the styling, as it’s easily as attractive as the current Civic sedan, and more so in my opinion, so therefore, while my argument for name recognition might factor in to some extent, it probably has everything to do with acquisition costs from Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana plant, the same facility that makes the CR-V Hybrid.
This results in a starting price of $28,490 plus freight and fees, which is $3,400 more expensive than Toyota’s Corolla Hybrid that begins at just $25,090. Ouch! The Touring trimmed model I tested is even dearer at $32,190, and this car isn’t much better (if at all) than a top-level Corolla Hybrid with its Premium package, that will only set its owner back $27,090 (plus destination and dealer charges). That’s $5,100 more affordable than the Insight, hence the lost sales numbers. No wonder Honda isn’t willing to add its U.S.-made CR-V Hybrid to the mix, as there’s obviously a serious problem making a business case for U.S.-produced hybrids in Canada.
Moving forward, Honda Canada will need to address this issue, at least with the models it can. By rejigging their Alliston assembly plant, they should be able to sell many more CR-V Hybrids than any other electrified model currently on offer, although the business case for doing so may not make sense in a market that’s only about 10 percent of America’s size.
Such a scenario might be justifiable if they chose to produce the Insight right next to the Civic, that’s also built in the Alliston facility, or even better, create a new Civic Hybrid model that doesn’t require the extra expense of unique body panel stampings. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Honda offered a Canadian-specific Civic, although that model was under the Acura EL nameplate.
No doubt Honda’s Canadian division has thought through numerous hybrid and electric strategies, as choosing the right one will be critical to its future success. Waiting for a fully electric alternative will put them at risk of losing ground in Canada’s electrified car industry overall, which really isn’t an option considering that the HEV, PHEV and EV industry is growing faster north of the 49th than it is south of the border, and also factoring in that all of its competitors are already selling or in the process of ramping up multiple hybrid and pure electric production vehicles. As it is, Honda Canada is only discussing the possibility of a CR-V Hybrid, and then only as part of the model’s upcoming generation.
Yes, even after all these years, Honda’s global electrification strategy is anything but cohesive. Nevertheless, the Insight is a very good car that could provide you with a lot of happiness behind the wheel. The automaker is attempting to sweeten the deal with incentives up to $1,000 on 2021 models or $1,600 off 2020 models (yes, there’s no shortage of new 2020s still available), but this is countered by Toyota’s factory leasing and financing rates from 0.49 percent on the Corolla Hybrid, with average CarCostCanada member savings of $1,937 when factoring in the knowledge gained by their dealer invoice pricing advantage.
Make sure to find out about every CarCostCanada membership benefit, plus remember to download their free app from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store, and choose your next car wisely. You could do a lot worse than purchasing a new Honda Insight, although the asking price might be a bit steep despite its exclusivity.
Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann
Honda Canada’s Civic sales have been crashing recently, down more than 20 percent throughout Q1 of 2021 compared to the same three months last year. Reasons for the downturn are likely varied, from…
Honda Canada’s Civic sales have been crashing recently, down more than 20 percent throughout Q1 of 2021 compared to the same three months last year. Reasons for the downturn are likely varied, from the health crisis to a 25-plus-percent increase in CR-V deliveries, the latter thanks to changing consumer tastes from cars to SUVs. Additionally, some of the slowdown is probably due to fewer Civics in dealership inventories, which makes sense now that we’ve learned a totally redesigned model is on the way later this year.
Honda took the wraps off its all-new 2022 Civic sedan this week, and at first glance it appears as if the design team wanted to take it back to the more conservative stylings of earlier iterations. Considering how well Honda has done with its current 10-generation model, which arrived six years ago for the 2016 model year, deviating from its ultimately angled look to a much more rounded, minimalist design may be seen as a risk, although it will certainly be a positive for less progressive buyers.
As for the new 11th-generation Civic, other than what little information the single frontal photo provides we know very little about it. Then again, if the Civic Prototype that debuted (on video game platform Twitch no less) in November is anything to go by, and both cars look very similar from the front except for lower fascia details, its rear design should include a smart set of LED infused taillights that come to a point that’s kind of reminiscent of those on the eighth-gen North American sedan at their rearmost ends, albeit much narrower. That was a particularly good-looking car for the era, while the current model’s C-shaped lenses have been amongst its most controversial styling elements.
We won’t delve into expected content, other than to say it will likely be filled with standard advanced safety kit in order to help keep its occupants safe, and score well in safety tests, while its cabin will no doubt come standard with a large centre touchscreen and offer a fully digital gauge cluster, at least as an option. More detailed information will arrive later this month, which we hope to include more photos, including at least one of its backside plus with a plethora of interior shots.
If you’re in the belief that Porsche’s Panamera flagship is simply a low-slung luxury sedan, think again. Designed to transport four adults in a comfortable cabin filled with some of the most impressive…
If you’re in the belief that Porsche’s Panamera flagship is simply a low-slung luxury sedan, think again.
Designed to transport four adults in a comfortable cabin filled with some of the most impressive interior quality and luxury amenities available, it would be easy to surmise that Porsche didn’t have its eye on performance when conceiving its most luxurious car, but after a single lap on the arduous 4.0-km long Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, such thoughts should forever be banished.
The new 2021 Panamera Turbo S was chosen, the quickest of its type yet with 620 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque on tap resulting in a shocking zero to 100km/h launch of just 3.1 seconds and wickedly fast terminal velocity of 315 km/h. The car, set to arrive at Canadian Porsche retailers this spring, managed the fastest time ever set by a production sedan of one minute and 31.51 seconds (1:31.51).
This record, set with professional racing driver Leh Keen at the wheel, beat the new Taycan Turbo S’ single lap time of just 1:33.88 minutes set the month prior in December, although the electrified Porsche continues to hold the track’s production EV title.
“The engineers found a perfect balance,” said Keen. “They really made it feel small and sporty. The stability gave me a ton of confidence to use every bit of the asphalt and curbs. And yet the car has a completely different and more refined and relaxed character on the highway – an amazing combination.”
Along with a luxurious interior filled with premium materials and state-of-the-art electronics, the 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S gets plenty of standard performance equipment that make it as quick on the road as it is on the track, including Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+), rear axle steering, and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport roll-stabilization system (PDCC Sport).
It should be noted that the 2021 Panamera Turbo S example that set the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta production sedan record was upgraded with an optional set of newly-developed road-legal Michelin Pilot Sport cup 2 ND0 ultra-high-performance tires measuring 275/35 ZR 21 103Y XL at the front and 325/30 ZR 21 108Y XL in the rear. The tires’ “N” designation signifies their co-development between Porsche and a tire manufacturer, in this case Michelin. The special tire was in fact designed specifically for the Panamera, and tuned at the legendary Nürburgring race track in Germany.
Also notable, vehicle data acquisition and timing expert Racelogic recorded and verified the Panamera Turbo S’ Road Atlanta lap time utilizing their VBOX video HD2 system.
How I wish it were that easy to summarize a week with one of the most impressive compact sedans ever produced by a mainstream volume brand. I’d call it the most impressive compact sedan ever produced by a mainstream volume brand, but I haven’t driven the new 2021 turbo or 100th Anniversary Edition yet, so I’ll curb my enthusiasm until these two hit my driveway.
We all have brand and model biases formed over years of ownership, or in my case 20-plus years of testing. This said, I try to limit any biases that might be based on the good or poor brand PR staff communications I’ve received over the years (although, in full disclosure, Mazda’s professionalism has been amongst the best in recent years), only sharing my thoughts on all aspects of the vehicle in question, its expected dependability, and its relevance in the marketplace.
First off (or maybe second off), the Mazda3 competitors named above are arguably the very best iterations of each model ever made, and very good cars overall. In fact, I’m sure you’d be happy with any of this segment’s top four, as well as most others on offer in this segment. I’m just saying you might be happier with the Mazda3, especially when comparing fully loaded variants.
Your opinion of this car will no doubt be influenced by its styling, so let’s get that out of the way immediately. If you prefer smaller grille designs Mazda’s compact might not be for you, but then again, most seem to agree the brand’s large heptagonal air intake is attractively shaped and tastefully integrated into the design, nicely fitting the 3’s overall look without appearing overbearing or out of place. I especially like the way its outermost chrome edges frame the lower inside corner and bottom edge of each LED headlamp, and appreciate the simple elegance of the car’s lower front fascia.
Interestingly, the Mazda3 looks widest of all the competitors mentioned above, at least to my eyes, yet it’s the second narrowest of the four, albeit only by a handful of millimeters. Sometimes this effect is created by lowering a car’s height, but in fact the 3’s roofline is 20 mm taller than the Corolla and Elantra, and reaches 39 mm higher than the lowest Civic. The 3’s styling makes it look wider, which is the result of good design, while its greater length from nose to tail lends to its sleek side profile.
Deeply carved door panels do their part too, the dramatic depth of their indent almost making the 3 look as if it’s been sideswiped ever so neatly (check out my photo of the car’s side profile in the gallery and you’ll see what I mean). The car’s rear styling is neat and tidy too, with a slender pair of LED taillights, visually supported by an uncluttered rear apron and sporty set of circular chromed tailpipes. The rear design might not win points for uniqueness, but it scores high marks when it comes to understated good taste.
Much the same can be said about the 3’s cabin when it comes to tastefulness, although to be fair it gains some strong character points too. The dash, which is completely covered in a high-grade soft composite, seems to float above the instrument panel as it flows over the primary gauge cluster and wraps around the infotainment display, its outer edges meeting albeit not melding into the front door uppers made from the same material. These swoop downward from the front to rear of each door, starting out almost entirely flat and rounding downward as they grow thicker. Unusually, the 3’s inner rear door panels duplicate those up front, complete with pliable uppers, a feature normally only found in luxury branded models in this compact class.
Just below each soft-touch door upper is a thickly padded leather-like bolster with stylish French-stitched seams down the middle, an attractive and luxurious feature that’s also found just under the aforementioned floating dash. It visually envelopes the entire interior, even more so when combined with finished in contrasting Pure White leatherette to match an upgrade that also includes white leather seat upholstery. The 3 looks particularly stylish when finished in this two-tone motif, although it can be a bit challenging to keep clean. The 3 Sport gets the same optional treatment in Garnet Red, by the way, as does the previously noted 100th Anniversary model. I should also point out that the lower front console’s top edges receive similar stitched and padded leatherette to protect the inside knees, although these are always finished in black.
The GT’s leather-covered seats feature perforated inserts for breathability, while most of their bolsters are a solid leather like the beautifully crafted steering wheel rim and each top portion of the horizontal spokes, not to mention the shifter knob and boot. Both the steering wheel spokes and shifter feature gorgeous satin-aluminum detailing too, the latter really chunky and solid feeling. The high-grade metallic trim is in fact a theme throughout the entire cabin, highlighted by drilled aluminum speaker grilles for the great-sounding Bose audio system.
While those latter items aren’t exactly unique, the thin aluminum accent spanning most of the instrument panel, even striking through the dual-zone automatic climate control system interface, is pure industrial art. This line of brightwork underscores the centre vents as well, culminating in C-shaped (at least on the driver’s side) flourishes that wrap around the corner vents. Suffice to say there’s plenty to keep an owner in love with a 3 GT long after the honeymoon is over, which is exactly why most premium buyers spend more for a luxury brand.
All said, Mazda is not a luxury brand, with pricing for the 2020 3 sedan starting well under $20k, and the front-wheel drive version of my top-line trim priced much below Acura’s ILX, a sedan that’s front-drive only and starts at $30,490. In fact, even after increasing in price by $300 from 2019 to 2020, thanks to proximity-sensing keyless entry made standard (previously part of the Premium upgrade package), the Mazda3 GT with its automatic only came to $26,500, nearly $4,000 less than the ILX (which is really an upgraded previous-generation Honda Civic under the metal), whereas the GT with i-ACTIV AWD (that only comes with an automatic) went up $100 to $30,500 this year, a near identical price to the front-drive-only ILX. By the way, the 2020 GT Premium now includes a sharp-looking frameless centre mirror, as well as the updated alloy wheels mentioned earlier.
Also take note, the Mazda3 GT i-ACTIV AWD goes up to $32,200 for 2021, an increase of $1,700 due to features being made standard that were only previously found in the Premium upgrade package, such as a 10-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar support and memory that also links to the side mirrors, leather upholstery, a navigation system, and tech features including SiriusXM satellite radio (with a three-month trial subscription), plus SiriusXM Traffic Plus and Travel Link (with a complimentary five-year trial subscription), and lastly Traffic Sign Recognition. Incidentally, the front-wheel drive GT auto moves up by $2,000 to $28,500 for the same reasons.
As noted earlier, there’s also been the addition of a new 2021 turbocharged GT AWD model that’s a mere $700 pricier at $32,900, so you might want to wait for that, and this upgrade in mind, Mazda dealers may want to consider how many non-turbo GTs they bring into inventory, being that soon these less potent 3s will probably only appeal to fuel-stingy commuters that want the creature comforts of a GT.
Some additional GT features include the 12-speaker Bose audio system noted earlier, plus advanced keyless entry, paddle shifters on automatic-equipped models, adaptive cornering for the auto-levelling LED signature headlamps, signature LED taillights, and 18-inch alloys, while the new Premium package includes glossy black front grille, a front wiper de-icer, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, reverse tilt-down on both exterior mirrors, a frameless centre mirror with auto-dimming, a HomeLink garage door transceiver, a head-up display, a 360-degree overhead parking monitor, front and rear parking sensors, emergency automatic braking for reversing, and traffic jam assist.
The GT isn’t the only Mazda3 sedan to get a price boost in 2021, with the base GX model increasing from $18,000 to $20,500 thanks to standard 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colour power-actuated side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, manual air conditioning, heatable front seats, cruise control, and advanced blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, all previously only available with the Convenience package, while yet more new 2021 standard 3 gear includes auto on/off headlights and rain-sensing wipers. Of note, the same model with the automatic goes up by $2,500 as well.
Mid-range GS trim remains the most affordable way to get all of Mazda’s i-Activsense safety features, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, plus driver attention alert. The GS increases in price by $200 to $22,900 for 2021.
Finally, a new 100th Anniversary Edition based on turbocharged GT i-ACTIV AWD trim approaches premium compact levels at $36,100, so you’ll have to be a real serious Mazda fan to pay the extra $3,200 needed to partake. For that money you’ll get special Snowflake White Pearl exterior paint, aforementioned Garnet Red leather upholstery and accents inside (normally reserved for the 3 Sport), red carpets and mats, the latter including unique 100th Anniversary embroidery, plus the same logo stamped onto the headrests, the key fob, the wheel centre caps, and each front fender.
I should also mention that both 2020 and 2021 Mazda3s are being offered with up to $750 in additional incentives according to CarCostCanada, where you can find out about all the latest manufacturer leasing and financing deals, rebate information, and best of all, dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when purchasing a new vehicle. Check out how the CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download their free app so you can have all this important information on your smartphone when you need it most.
Of note, the five-door Mazda3 Sport gets similar year-by-year updates and price hikes, except for the base model that only increases by $200 from 2019 through 2021 due to including most of the standard features mentioned above from inception, and therefore already retailing for thousands more than 2019 and 2020 versions of the base sedan. The 100th Anniversary Edition hatchback pushes this Mazda3 model into a new near-premium price point of $37,100 too, but I won’t say anything more about the five-door Sport body style as I’ll be reviewing it separately.
Sportiness in mind, however, both Mazda3 models are available with three Skyactiv-G engine choices, all of which are fun to drive, although the new turbo dusts off distant memories of the late-great Mazdaspeed3. That engine, which makes 250 horsepower and a whopping 320 lb-ft of torque, will be covered in an upcoming review as well, being that I haven’t even driven it yet, so I’ll keep my comments to the 2.0-litre variant that makes 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque in base trim, and the non-turbo 2.5 that’s good for a respective 186 units apiece.
Performance from these two naturally aspirated engines haven’t changed since 2019, and there’s actually plenty to like about the base engine, which incidentally can only be had with GX manual and auto trims, plus GS manual trims for 2021, and comes standard with the base GX and all non-AWD versions of the GS in 2020. Its main selling point is fuel efficiency, good for a claimed 8.7 L/100km city, 6.4 highway and 7.7 combined when hooked up to the six-speed manual or 8.4, 6.6 and 7.6 respectively when mated to the six-speed auto (note, the Mazda3 doesn’t include a continuously variable transmission/CVT like most competitors, so while it may give up some thrift compared to rivals, it arguably improves drivability).
The 2.5-litre four, standard with the GS auto, all non-turbo AWD models, and the GT for 2021, makes a noticeable difference in performance without sacrificing much in fuel economy at 8.8 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 7.8 combined with FWD or a respective 7.0, 9.2 and 8.2 with AWD.
Paddle shifters make the most of the Skyactiv-Drive automatic, especially in sport mode, and let me say it really doesn’t need more than six forward speeds, except maybe for marketing purposes. There’s something wonderful (and reliable) about a simple six-speed auto, and considering I was testing compacts with four- and five-speed automatics when I started out in this business, this is still a comparatively advanced transmission. As noted, Mazda incorporates its Skyactiv technologies, which they say combine all the advantages of conventional automatics, CVTs and dual-clutch gearboxes together—one big fat claim.
For starters, the Skyactiv-Drive autobox incorporates a significantly widened lock-up range to improve torque transfer efficiency while realizing a direct driving feel that Mazda reports as being the equivalent to a manual transmission, whereas fuel efficiency is improved by four to seven percent compared to the brand’s older non-Skyactiv automatic. While I can’t prove any of this from the wheel, it was certainly thrifty throughout my weeklong drive and responded well to input, shifting quickly and, like I mentioned a moment ago, a lot more positively than any CVT I’ve ever used (although the Corolla Hatchback’s CVT is surprisingly good).
Likewise, the Mazda3’s suspension ideally balances comfort and performance, but it goes about this in a surprisingly unsophisticated way. To be fair, the brand’s engineers chose to keep a simpler torsion-beam rear suspension in play rather than adopt an independent multi-link setup in back, and not just because it would save money that could be used elsewhere. First and foremost, it’s lighter, whereas the more straightforward design is easier to tune for the desired results. What you get is a smooth riding suspension that transitions to quick, fast-paced inputs nicely, only getting a bit unsettled when hammered through really bad patches of pavement at high speeds, mid-turn. This is where a multi-link design works better, but all said I found the 3’s torsion-beam setup hard to fault, even when pushed hard over broken road surfaces.
Fortunately, Mazda has isolated the 3’s passenger compartment so that most bumps, potholes and bridge expansion joins don’t translate to discomfort within. The body structure feels tight and solid, plus it seems as if this car gets a lot more sound-deadening insulation between outer and inner door panels than its key competitors. Again, it feels more 3 Series than Corolla in this respect, no offence to Toyota, or maybe more A-Class and A3-like, but either way resulting in that premium-like experience I’ve been going on and on about.
The 3’s driving position is similarly impressive, with enough reach from its tilt and telescopic steering column to make my long-legged, short-torso frame feel right at home, and certainly more in control than when piloting the Corolla, which needs more steering wheel extension for people shaped like me. The driver’s seat was a perfect fit too, its two-way power-adjustable lumbar support even pushing up against the small of my back where I need it most.
When seated just behind in the second row, the driver’s seat having been set up for a guy that measures five feet, eight inches tall with (once again) longish legs, and backrest canted rearward marginally, I benefited from approximately five inches of knee space to the seatback ahead, which is pretty good for this class, and no shortage of foot space below. The aforementioned taller than average roof height resulted in about three inches of room for growth above my head, while side-to-side space was more than adequate for two adults, along with reasonable room for a third when required.
Rear seat accoutrements include a fold-down centre armrest with two integrated cupholders, and that’s it. No heatable rear outboard seats, and even stranger, no air vents or USB charge ports on the backside of the front console. This is only odd due to Mazda finishing off all rear surfaces as nicely as those up front, as noted earlier in this review.
As for this sedan’s trunk, it’s about average in size for this class at 358 litres, and includes expandability via the segment’s usual 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. If Mazda wanted to appeal even more to the premium crowd, 40/20/40-split rear seats, or at least a centre pass-through would help, this potentially a dealmaker for outdoor sports enthusiasts who might choose an all-wheel drive 3 over a competitor thanks to its all-weather traction, especially if they can fit their skis safely inside with four occupants onboard.
I wouldn’t mention this for a car in this class if Mazda wasn’t already one of the only mainstream manufacturers to provide 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks in its compact CX-5 SUV, meaning they’ve proven to understand how important passenger/cargo flexibility is to their buyers.
I wouldn’t call that last issue a complaint, but I do have a few negatives to bring up with the Mazda3 GT. For starters, I found the sensitivity of the auto braking and lane change alerts a bit annoying, but not as much as the nagging digital voice’s constant speed limit announcements. If this had been my personal car, I would’ve quickly found a way to turn that feature off.
Also, the dual auto HVAC system was more difficult to set to a comfortable temperature than what I normally experience in other brands. I therefore chose 20C so it wasn’t overly hot, but take note 20.5C was already uncomfortably warm. This means there was no middle ground, with 20C being on the cool side and 20.5C requiring the windows powered down a crack. I ended up setting it to 20C and using the three-way heated seats to keep my backside warm, not to mention the heatable steering wheel rim.
I’d also like to see Mazda improve the otherwise handy radio volume/tuner knob on the lower console, which rotates for the former and can be modulated from side-to-side for the latter. It works perfectly for changing AM/FM stations, but scrolling through satellite stations requires a tedious multi-step process within the infotainment system’s audio interface, each and every time you want to do so. I ended up saving my favourite stations to a list accessible from the star button just next to the volume/tuner knob, so at least a shortcut method has been provided, but I’d like to see some sort of improvement for tuning in satellite stations just the same.
You might find my little complaints more annoying to read than these issues actually are in real life, this probable after factoring in just how excellent the Mazda3 is in every other respect. If I were buying in this class, this car would be right at the top of my list and probably get the nod, albeit with that new turbocharged engine upgrade and potentially the Sport body style.
It’s hard to argue against a car that recently won the 2020 World Car Design of the Year award after all, let alone took top honours in AJAC’s 2020 Canadian Car of the Year earlier, and the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year before that, while earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award is an accolade worth mentioning too. All that aside, I like its styling, love its interior design and materials quality, find it comfortably accommodating, appreciate its expected reliability, and always enjoy spending time in its driver’s seat. In other words, I highly recommend the Mazda3.
Story and photos by Trevor Hofmann
After doing an exhaustive preview of the 2021 G80 M3 Sedan and G82 M4 Coupe that introduced the brand’s polarizing new bucktooth grille design, which BMW quickly followed up by revealing their near…
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a 2020 Gran Coupe available for this review, so instead I’ll point you back to a 2015 BMW 428i xDrive I previously reviewed, and on that note the two cars featured in this road test are actually 2019 models that fell between the cracks, so allow me some creative license as these two were not fundamentally changed from model years 2019 to 2020, and reviewing them now allows the opportunity to point out where aesthetic updates and trim modifications were made.
This last point is fairly easy, with the only changes made from 2019 to 2020 being colour options, the Coupe losing Glacier Silver and Melbourne Red metallics and thus reducing its exterior colour count to two standard solid shades and three metallic options. The same seven interior motifs are available, and there are no changes with its myriad option packages. The Cabriolet loses its alternative black mirror caps in base trim (at least from the factory) and drops the same two hues as the Coupe, but adds a new metallic called Sunset Orange, while swapping Tanzanite Blue for Tanzanite Blue II. Lastly, the Gran Coupe eliminates Glacier Silver too (it didn’t have Melbourne Red), while adding Aventurine Red II Metallic, plus it trades the same two Tanzanite hues while swapping Frozen Silver for Frozen Dark Grey. And that’s it.
My two testers were painted in $895 optional Glacier Silver and Estoril Blue metallics, by the way, the latter getting plenty of looks with the top down thanks to beautifully contrasting Ivory White leather clad interior. It’s hard to believe that BMW no longer offers three of its sportiest models in Germany’s official racing livery, but the brand was never part of the silver arrows era anyway, its chosen colour in motorsport always being white with mostly blue accents. It nevertheless looks good in classic silver, especially with the blackened trim and wheels.
Both testers were near fully loaded, being 440i powered and xDrive controlled. Base 4 Series models come with the 430i powerplant, which denotes BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo-four with 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, resulting in lively performance albeit par for the course in this class, whereas 440i models receive the automaker’s turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six good for a much more spirited 326 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The only model available without all-wheel drive is the 440i Coupe, but a quick glance at the back of my tester reveals the BMW’s “xDrive” emblem, which meant mine was not one of these rare rear-drive beasts.
Much to my chagrin, BMW didn’t include its wonderful six-speed manual in either car, although it is (was) available in the 440i Coupe (only). Was? Yes, this time of year you’ll need to take whatever you can get, meaning snap up a rear- or all-wheel drive 440i Coupe with a manual if you can find one, because there are obviously no more factory orders for this now updated car, and only M4s will offer manuals hereafter.
Alas, BMW has abandoned both the manual transmission and silver, no less at a time when we should all be considering investing in precious metals. What could be next? I’ll point you to my exhaustive overview of the new M3 and M4 for some of those details, at which point you’ll clearly appreciate that the German brand’s twin-kidney grille remains at large for 2021, or rather larger than life, which, I reiterate, is a good reason any available 2020 models will be hot commodities right about now. Let’s face it, while BMW deserves kudos for bravery, its significant stretch from conservatism hasn’t been universally praised to say the least.
I, for one, happen to love these two cars’ styling, and might even appreciate the outgoing Gran Coupe more. They’re all elegantly balanced designs with classic BMW cues as well as more visual muscle than any predecessors, plus they combine the most impressively crafted interiors, highest levels of technology, and best overall performance offered in any non-M-branded compact BMW ahead of the new 2021 models.
The 440i’s cabin is at a level of quality and refinement above most everything in this class. Along with the expected soft-touch synthetic surfaces normally found in this segment, BMW covered the entire dash-top and door uppers of the Cabriolet in rich, high-quality French-stitched leather, while the door panels received gorgeous white diamond-pattern leather inserts. The Coupe was less opulently attired, preferring a sportier black on black interior with a regular pliable composite dash and a tighter diamond pattern for its leather door inserts. Either way, both 4 Series doors wore premium soft-touch surfaces right to their very bottoms.
Both cars’ seats were exquisitely detailed in perforated hides, the Coupe’s even sporting contrasting light grey piping and stitching, whereas the Cabriolet’s creamy leather was sewn together with black thread. Plenty of satin-finished aluminum and piano black lacquered trim highlighted key areas in both models, while the instrument panel, lower console and doors were enhanced with a tasteful array of glossy dark hardwood in the Cabriolet and ideally suited patterned aluminum inlays for the Coupe. The switchgear in both cabins was once again of the highest quality, BMW cutting zero corners in this respect.
Moving up to 2021 4 Series models will allow for a fully digital primary gauge cluster, which for some will be a worthwhile expense, and while I’ve enjoyed playing around with such devices from other brands, I’d have no issue staying put with the outgoing 4’s mostly analogue dials. They’re classic BMW kit after all, with a small full-colour, high resolution multi-information display at centre, but all infotainment features, such as navigation mapping, audio details, phone queries, car setup functions, parking camera, etcetera are best done from the widescreen display atop the centre stack.
Again, there are more advanced infotainment systems in the industry, particularly in the new 4 Series, but this setup is easy on the eyes, fully featured and responds to inputs more than fast enough. I like BMW’s tile layout that allows finger swiping from function to function or modulation from the console-mounted rotating iDrive controller and surround quick-access buttons. This is well sorted and should be easy for anyone to learn how to use, given some time and practice.
Tooling around town is a wholly different experience depending on which model you purchase. The 440i Cab made for a wonderful winter reprieve, almost causing me to feel as if summer was back and the good times of evening drinks on patio bistros were around the corner. Yes, that thought might seem masochistic to contemplate amid our current health crisis, but personal luxury cars like this 4 Series Coupe and Convertible are ideal for getting away from all the madness, whether during your daily commute or on a weekend retreat. The well-insulated retractable hard-top made it feel coupe-like as well, and it takes barely a moment to lower, plus can be done while on the move.
Getting off the line and ahead of packed traffic is no issue when the “440i” emblem is stamped on the rear deck lid, each car’s ability to shoot forward from standstill smile inducing to say the least. Then again, the 430i Coupe doesn’t give up much forward momentum, scooting from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.8 seconds compared to the all-wheel drive Coupe’s 4.9 and rear-drive version’s 5.1 seconds. Yes, four-wheel traction matters more than the extra 39 kilos of curb weight, but mass does cut into the 200-kilogram heavier Cabriolet’s performance with less energetic times of 6.4 and 5.4 seconds for the 430i and 440i variants respectively. The Gran Coupe merely adds 0.1 seconds to each all-wheel drive Coupe sprint, resulting in 5.9 and 5.0 seconds from 430i to 440i. All 4 Series models are limited to a 210-km/h (130-mph) top speed.
Likewise, I could feel the Cabriolet’s heft in the corners, but not so much that it became unwieldy. In fact, if I had never driven the Coupe before I’d be wholly satisfied, as its handling is wonderfully predictable and oh-so capable when coursing through serpentine stretches at high speeds. The Coupe is just that much better, its lighter curb weight and stiffer body structure providing a more playful attitude that seems to always want to please.
This side of an M4, the only way to make the 440i Coupe better would’ve been the six-speed manual, but the eight-speed auto was impressive as far as commuter transmissions go, shifting quickly in its sportiest mode, when the steering wheel-mounted paddles came into play, yet smooth all the time.
Likewise, both cars’ suspensions soaked up road imperfections well, and never unsettled my forward trajectory, even when pushing hard over some poorly paved sections of curving backroad. They were a pleasure to drive around town too, their comfortable seats, both featuring extendable lower cushions, wonderfully supportive.
The Cabriolet is about as practical as this class gets in back, which isn’t all that much, but the Coupe offers room enough for two adults and the Gran Coupe more so. The same goes for cargo space that ranges from 220 litres in the Cab to 445 litres in either hard-top car, while all cars get a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat with a particularly wide and accommodating centre pass-through.
Now that I’m being pragmatic, fuel economy is actually quite good in all of the 4 Series models, the best being the base 430i Coupe and Grand Coupe that share a 10.2 L/100km city, 7.2 highway and 8.8 combined rating, whereas the 430i Cab is good for a claimed 10.6 city, 7.3 highway and 9.1 combined. The thriftiest six-cylinder 4 Series is the rear-drive automatic 440i Coupe at 11.2 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 9.4 combined, followed by the both the 440i xDrive auto Coupe and Gran Coupe with ratings of 11.4 city, 7.6 highway and 9.7 combined. The 440i Cab achieves a respective 11.8, 7.9 and 10.0, and lastly the two manually-driven Coupes come in at 12.8, 8.8 and 11.0 for the rear-drive model and 13.0, 8.5 and 11.0 for the xDrive version. All require pricier premium fuel, but that’s par for the course with German luxury vehicles.
Now that I’ve lulled you to sleep, I should wake you up by mentioning that BMW is currently offering up to $10,500 in additional incentives for 2020 4 Series models, one of the most aggressive discounts I’ve ever seen offered by any manufacturer on any car, so you might want to head over to the CarCostCanada 2020 BMW 4 Series Canada Prices page to learn more. You can build each model right down to their 20-plus options and aforementioned colours, plus you can learn about any manufacturer leasing and financing deals, available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that will give you a major edge when negotiating your deal. Find out how the CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download their free app so you can have all of this critical info with you when you’re at the dealership.
I can’t look into the future to guess whether or not the new 2021 4 Series models will eventually be accepted by pre-owned BMW buyers in order to predict their future resale values, because it really will take some time for fans of the brand to make up their collective minds. I don’t even want to think too far ahead regarding my own future tastes, but I can say for sure this most recent 4 Series design has weathered the test of time well. I see it as a future classic, and would be more inclined to pick one of these sure bets up instead of risking my investment on its unorthodox replacement. All I can say is, get one while you can.